Five Essential Items Every Runner Should Have


When you ask most runners what they do to stay in shape, they generally reply, “I run.” And although running is certainly a great cardio workout, those runners who rely exclusively on running to stay fit do so to the detriment of their running game. As surprising as it may sound, to improve your running form, endurance, and economy you need to be doing more than just running. Specifically, runners need to incorporate stability exercises and strength training in their routine if they want to truly improve their time on the track and decrease risk of injury.

Towards that end, here are five essential items every runner should have:

1. Stability Ball

Exercise Stability BallThere is absolutely no excuse for you not having a stability ball. When it comes to training your core, it’s hard to beat the big rubber sphere. But, you may say, “I’m a runner. I should focus on my legs, not my core, right?” Wrong.

As great as running is, relying on it exclusively for your fitness can lead to serious muscle imbalances and reduced flexibility. A stability ball can help address these problems by adding some instability to your training. As your body attempts to balance on the ball, it’s forced to call upon groups of core muscles working in unison. Trying to keep your balance requires far more muscle groups than sit-ups and crunches, working the front and side abdominals in combination to provide exactly the kind of core strengthening that will improve your running. A strong core is vital to stabilizing your upper body, which will allow you to maintain proper running form even when you’re fatigued.

Check out our selection of stability balls.

For some ideas of exercises to do with your stability ball, here’s a great article from Active.

2. Foam Roller

Foam RollersYou may have seen these in your local gym and wondered just what the heck they’re used for. When used correctly, foam rollers can release tension and tightness between your muscles and the fascia (the thin sheath of fibrous tissue surrounding the muscles) that result from the repetitive motions you use when running. A combination of foam rolling and dynamic stretching will help ease tension, improve flexibility and range of motion, and seriously decrease risk of injury. Indeed, using a foam roller correctly can provide benefits similar to those you’d enjoy from a deep-tissue massage. If you’re serious about running, then it’s time to invest in a couple foam rollers.

Check out our selection of foam rollers.

And here’s a great eight-part video series from Runner’s World on how to efficiently use your foam roller.

3. Kettlebells

KettlebellsAs we mentioned earlier, runners who fail to incorporate strength training into their workout regimen are not only missing out on improving their running time, endurance, and form, they’re also missing out on a prime method of decreasing risk of injury. Most runners avoid the weight room out of a fear of getting too big and bulky. However, maintaining a strength program is absolutely essential to improving your running efficiency. For example, getting rid of rounded shoulders can help increase the amount of air your lungs take in and out, while strengthening your glutes will provide more power for when you push off the ground.

Thanks to their distinct shape, kettlebells are an especially helpful tool for runners working on their strength training. Ballistic movements like swings and snatches will help improve your power and explosiveness. The shape and size of kettlebells compel you to use a lot of force, core strength, and coordinated movement, all of which increases overall body strength.

Check out our selection of kettlebells.

Here’s a nice article from about four key kettlebell exercises for runners to get you started.

4. Powerblock Dumbbells

Powerblock Sport Adjustable DumbbellsAnother key tool for a runner’s strength training regimen are dumbells. Most any dumbbells will do, but we like the Powerblock dumbbells best thanks to their convenient storage and easy-to-increase weight increments.

Again, most runners are hesitant about anything that even smells like weight-lifting out of fear of getting too big. But as mentioned before, strength training for runners is not about getting big but about targeting those muscle groups that running, alone, doesn’t hit, but which are essential to improving your running ability. You want to increase your strength to the point at which your body can handle running without injury. With Powerblock dumbbells, you can focus on increasing your strength and stamina without cluttering up the room.

Check out our selection of Powerblock dumbbells.

Here’s a quick video that shows a great dumbbell core circuit workout for runners.

5. TRX Home Suspension Training Kit

TRX Home Suspension Training KitWhen it comes to an all-in-one system that allows you to work on your balance, strength-training, flexibility, and endurance, the TRX Home Suspension Training Kit is simply the best. Originally invented by a US Navy SEAL to help him exercise without gym equipment, the TRX uses your own bodyweight to deliver a powerful workout that can strengthen key areas needed to increase running acceleration, top speed, and overall running control. It’s simple to set up, easy to increase or decrease difficulty, and works equally well indoors or out.

What makes the TRX kit especially great is that it constitutes a full-body workout using only your body weight and gravity, a fact that will assuage most runners’ fears of getting too bulky from pumping iron. From basic squats and pushups to jumps, twists, one-legged lifts, and more, the TRX system is extremely versatile and, no matter what exercise you do, will engage your core stabilizers so you can build strength, balance, agility, and power all at once.

Order your own TRX Home Suspension Training Kit today.

Here’s a great video to get started improving knee drive and posture with the TRX kit.


Artificial Knees, Hips Not a Problem with Zero Runner


Dave Sheriff, the former owner of HealthStyles, has been nicknamed the “bionic man” and for good reason. With replaced hips, replaced knees, and a few more spare parts, Dave has unfortunately been unable to run like he used to.

Until now!

White Paper: The Deleterious Effects of Chronic Impact from Running


Octane Fitness and the University of Minnesota recently published a pair of white papers regarding the Zero Runner, a new piece of exercise equipment from Octane Fitness. The Zero Runner is the first running machine of its kind, as it completely eliminates the stress and strain runners feel from their feet impacting on the ground.

Here’s a snippet from the first white paper, The Deleterious Effects of Chronic Impact from Running. Click here to download the full white paper.

With recreational running at an all-time high in the United States, more people are regularly exercising and improving their fitness levels. The number of U.S. race finishers has increased nearly 600 percent since 1990, and the total number of annual U.S. running events has reached a record 28,200. A corresponding increase in injuries has accompanied this significant jump in running participation.

In fact, research estimates that approximately 74% of runners suffer a moderate or severe injury each year. Some estimates are as high as 82% of runners will get injured at some point in their running career. And dedicated distance runners can attest to a myriad of acute and chronic injuries over time.

While running confers a host of physiological and psychological benefits, the repetitive stress it inflicts on the body over time can lead to injuries.

An independent study by the University of Minnesota found that the Zero Runner had minimal force impact when compared to outside and treadmill running.

Want to read more? Click here to download the rest of this brief yet informational white paper for yourself!

What’s Inside:

  • Impact Force and the Human Body
  • Common Overuse Injuries in Runners
  • Zero-Impact Running
  • And More!

White Paper: Improving Running Performance with Cross Training


The all new Zero Runner from Octane Fitness represents a revolutionary new way to run: all of the benefits and flexibility of running outdoors but without the strain caused by your feet impacting with the ground. Already, the Zero Runner has changed the lives of runners who had been told by their doctors that running just wasn’t an option for them anymore (see our guest blog from Tom Riggs, here).

But the Zero Runner is not simply for injured or recovering athletes. This running machine’s innovative design makes it ideal for serious runners looking to get an edge on their competition through cross training.

Here’s a preview of the second white paper published by Octane Fitness and the University of Minnesota that highlights some of the ways the Zero Runner can help runners enhance their running game and enrich their overall workout: Improving Running Performance with Cross Training.

Running participation in the United States continues to climb, with more than 70% growth in the past decade, according to Running USA’s 2014 State of the Sport – Part II: Running Industry Report. Correspondingly, increasing interest exists surrounding training, injury prevention, nutrition and optimizing performance.

Regarding training, the exercise physiology principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demand (S.A.I.D) indicates that the body adapts to the specific stresses imposed on it; so to become a better runner, one must train by running. But some runners may take this to an extreme – along with a “more is better” mindset, making logging miles paramount, often to the exclusion of any other type of exercise.

Cross training is a comprehensive approach to physiological conditioning and adds valuable variety that helps reduce susceptibility to overuse injuries.

With the Zero Runner, CROSS CiRCUIT and SmartLink, excelling in running by adding cross training is now convenient, efficient, and effective.

Want to read more? Click here to download the rest of this brief yet informational white paper for yourself!

What’s Inside:

  • Strength Training for Runners
  • The Role of Flexibility
  • A Simple Solution
  • Fueling an Addiction
  • And More!


Ideal Cross-Trainer For The Injured Runner: The Zero Runner

Ric Rojas Coaching on the Octane Zero Runner

Ric Rojas coaching National USATF Youth Bronze Medalist, Calvin Munson, on the Octane Zero Runner ZR7.

As a running coach, I advise runners on optimum training, peak performance, and injury management. And under each of these topics there are volumes of information, products, and services available to facilitate successful training and racing.

Healthy and successful runners are any coach’s dream and, of course, I hope that each of my runners is always able to train and race at their highest level. I try to design their programs to minimize the chance of injury by incorporating stretching, non-impact cross-training, and strength training, but even with the best injury-prevention methodologies, many runners  experience “over-use” or occasionally traumatic injuries.

In order to continue training, these injured athletes will eventually need some combination of physical therapy, “non-impact” aerobic training, or occasionally more invasive medical intervention such as surgery.

In extreme cases, runners may be injured so severely that they are unable to run, but in most cases, injured runners are able to cross-train using non-running/non-impact alternatives.

This is where stationary aerobic training machines, bikes, and water-based training have traditionally come to the rescue.

The main consideration in recommending a cross-training apparatus for an injured runner is how closely it allows the runner to simulate a running workout while eliminating potentially harmful foot-strike impact. Historically, I have recommended elliptical trainers because they allow runners to reach high aerobic exertion levels with no impact. I have also recommended “deep water running” for the same reason.  Although cycling is a great aerobic training alternative, the upper-body is not engaged and body weight is supported by the bike, so target aerobic thresholds are more difficult to achieve. The other considerations in selecting a cross-training alternative are availability/convenience, price, and size.

So, in the spectrum of possibilities, each machine has pluses and minuses depending on its capacity to facilitate true running activity and other considerations. The ideal machine would simulate the physical motion of running and allow high aerobic exertion levels with no foot-strike related impact.

Recently, Octane introduced the new “Zero Runner” running trainer. This machine allows the runner to “run” with no related foot-strike impact while achieving target aerobic training levels. So far, I have been able to successfully replicate training runs, intervals, and high-intensity speed workouts on the Zero Runner. This winter, I plan to integrate the Zero Runner into my running, circuit training, and rehab programs.

The Zero Runner also meets the required practical considerations: reasonable price, a small footprint, and has three additional bonuses – a lower price than comparable ellipticals or treadmills, it requires no electrical power, and it makes almost no noise.

For those injured runners looking to get back to the joys of running without aggravating the injury which forced them away from the sport they love, the Zero Runner is a terrific option. Either as a stand-alone workout or in conjunction with a cross-training regimen, the Zero Runner delivers on its promises of providing a no-impact workout while replicating the natural running motion that other low- or no-impact options simply cannot.

Ric Rojas 1981 15K World RecordRic Rojas is the owner founder of Ric Rojas Running, which offers comprehensive training programs for both junior and adult endurance runners and sprinters of all abilities.

Rojas received his BA from Harvard University in 1974 and an MBA from the University of Denver in 1983. While at Harvard, he set the three-mile record and qualified for “All-Ivy” honors in track and cross country. From 1977 to 1981, Rojas was ranked in the top 10 US Road Racers by Track and Field News. As a high-school prep, Rojas won four New Mexico state high-school championships in cross country and track and was ranked in the top 10 US High School Milers. He still holds the New Mexico state mile record of 4:12.6.

My Doctors Told Me To Never Run Again. Then I Found The Zero Runner.


I really miss running, so when I heard about the Zero Runner I HAD to see what it was all about. I’ll tell you right up front that this thing delivers on every promise you’ve heard about it, and it delivers big!

Tom Riggs on the Octane Zero Runner ZR7

Tom Riggs runs again on the new Octane Zero Runner.

The new Zero Runner from Octane Fitness has enabled me to return to running after more than a year off, even though I’ve had two doctors tell me I had to give up the sport I’ve loved for over 30 years!

Back in the mid seventies as a high school gymnast, I made a horrible miscalculation on my dismount from the high bar. As I was swinging reverse giants (that’s when the gymnast swings completely around the bar) I was supposed to let go at just the right point, do a front flip, and land on the mats below. I’d done the trick just fine in practice and in competition. This time, though, something went horribly wrong. I’ll never know exactly what I did wrong, but the result was painful and, eventually, life-changing. Instead of landing on my feet as planned, I hit the bar with the backs of my legs and landed on the back of my head with my full body weight coming straight down.

I was extremely sore for several days, and my neck was stiff for weeks! I didn’t know it at the time, but that stiff neck was because I had ruptured the disk at C5-6. It took a while, but several years later that disk collapsed completely and I had to have a spinal fusion. I was fine for many years and even ran 30 marathons, winning my age group or the master’s division a few times in smaller local races, and once even managed to place fourth overall! I planned to run marathons into my eighties and pile up age-group awards until I either didn’t enjoy running anymore, or I was physically unable to do so.

The “physically unable” part came much sooner than I’d anticipated. Because of that original injury, some bad luck and some bad genes, I’ve now had three fusion procedures on my neck and one on my lower spine. I’ve also got titanium joints and screws in both feet, but I was still trying to run as much as possible. Finally, two doctors told me just weeks apart that, not only was running a bad idea, but I should stop altogether before I put myself in horrible pain for the rest of my life!

I really miss running, so when I heard about the Zero Runner I HAD to see what it was all about. I’ll tell you right up front that this thing delivers on every promise you’ve heard about it, and it delivers big!

My wife and I both took to it immediately with no real clumsiness …and my wife has never been a runner! Our sales person had warned us that there would be a learning curve and some initial awkward feelings, and that proved to be the case with the group of people who tried the Zero Runner after us. We stood and watched as they tried, one after the other, to get the hang of running on this new contraption. They felt silly, and truthfully looked silly as well, but they were clearly enjoying themselves and got the hang of it in very little time.

Octane Zero Runner ZR7 Console

The Octane Zero Runner console is simple and elegant.

We took delivery of our Zero Runner about two weeks after that initial visit to HealthStyles Exercise Equipment and both of us absolutely love it! Besides looking very cool, this machine is smooth, quiet, and provides an awesome workout. My wife loves the fact that she can vary her pace and stride without having to push buttons to tell a treadmill to slow down or speed up. The Zero Runner is motivated by you, so you get to set the pace instead of reacting to a mindless motor.

Stepping onto the Zero Runner, one of the first things you notice is the nifty piece of clear glass directly in front of you. Then you wonder, “Where’s the display? Where are the numbers and timers and stuff?” Not until you touch the “power” button do you realize the clear piece of glass is more than just a decoration or a book holder; it’s actually the display! Simple and elegant, it’s a pleasant departure from the usual gaudy, overindulgent displays of today’s fitness equipment. Stationary handles contain heart rate sensors, or you can wear a wireless chest strap to keep tabs on your effort. I like to run with only one hand holding on to either the stationary handle or the handle that moves with your stride, so having that chest strap is a nice touch.

There are a few different strides you can do on the Zero Runner, including lunges and stairs, so even though the strength of this machine is its dead-on imitation of running, you can vary your workout if boredom sets in. There’s also the usual timer that counts up or down. And the build quality is exceptional. I highly recommend the Zero Runner!

Tom RiggsTom Riggs is a runner, artist, and writer living in Fort Collins.

Contact him at

62-Year-Old with Five Artificial Joints and Spinal Fusion Runs Again on Zero Runner

Dave Sheriff runs again on the Octane Zero Runner.

Dave Sheriff runs again on the Octane Zero Runner.

Sixty-two-year-old former avid runner Dave Sheriff recently re-found his love of running in a new piece of cardio equipment that allows him painless, impact-free running, the Zero Runner.

“I missed being able to stride out and run,” Sheriff said.

“On the Zero Runner, I look the same as anyone else. And I get the endorphins, the runner’s high.”

Sheriff sorely missed running.

As a former athlete – he wrestled and played football at St. Cloud State in Minnesota – who suffered injuries – his right knee in college and his shoulder more recently, in a bike crash – Sheriff had good cause to stop running.

“I had both hips replaced 16 years ago; both knees replaced, around four years ago; and a spinal fusion – with cadaver disc and titanium plate – and shoulder reconstruction three years ago.

“They shoulda just put me down.”

Despite his near-bionic status, and like many passionately athletic Coloradoans, Sheriff continued in fitness, mostly by means other than running.

“I cycled. Rode a stationary bike. Power-walked, with poles to let my upper body do a bit more of the work. I elliptical-ed.

“But these other things aren’t quite the same,” resigned Sheriff.

And he did try a little running.

On a standard treadmill, Sheriff can do a slow jog: four miles per hour. But only for a few minutes.

“It’s not comfortable.”

Pavement is even worse.

“I can run for 30 seconds.

However, with the Zero Runner, which looks a bit like a mechanical exoskeleton for the legs, Sheriff said there’s no discomfort.

“And there’s the freedom of a full range of motion. I really get a sweat up,” Sheriff said. “It’s phenomenal.”

Octane Zero Runner Stride PhasesThe Los Angeles Times recently reviewed a handful of running machines that claim to take the stress and impact out of running. The new product category – the soft running machine – is needed, the review said, because every year, half of all runners get hurt enough that they must stop running – sometimes for a few days, sometimes forever.

Injury reduction was likewise the impetus for the explosion of “soft” running methods in the last decade, such as barefoot running.

In the review, the Zero Runner was by far the simplest. No motor, just foot cups and hip and knee joints that allow the cups (and feet) to follow a normal running stride, including following the runner’s feet upward as they kick up behind. And handles that follow the runner’s arm movement. As well, it features a striking clear-screen display and electronics that integrate with iPads and iPhones.

It was also one of the least expensive, at $3,299.

The Zero Runner can be found at HealthStyles Exercise Equipment stores in Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Glenwood Springs. It was designed, and is manufactured, by Octane Fitness of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.


Zero Runner: Benefits for Injured or Recovering Athletes


Octane ZR7 Zero Runner Cross TrainingBeing forced to train less or even forgo intensive training altogether due to an injury is easily the most frustrating moment for an athlete. Although there are options available that allow injured athletes to continue working out to some degree, all of them lack the quality and intensity athletes demand from their training.

Until now.

The all-new Zero Runner from Octane, available at your nearest HealthStyles Exercise Equipment location, is the first running machine that allows you to run with your natural form while eliminating the impact of your feet hitting the ground. The Zero Runner’s unique design, the ability to add more miles to your run without adding strain to your joints, and its easy incorporation into cross training exercises make it an ideal fitness machine for injured and recovering athletes.

Unique Design

The engineers at Octane set out to design a way for athletes to enjoy all the benefits of running naturally but without the pounding and stress on the body that generally accompanies it. In the Zero Runner’s innovative design, they have accomplished just that!

The Zero Runner features ingenious hip and knee joints intended to act almost like a bionic leg – facilitating each athlete’s unique running motion and natural stride. The independent pedals follow your feet throughout the running motion, allowing you to run just as naturally as if you were outdoors. Both of these aspects serve to suspend the body, frame your physique, and protect your joints so you can reap the benefits of running while avoiding the pain from impacting with the ground.

Octane Zero Runner ZR7 vs Treadmills

Unlike ellipticals or treadmills, the Zero Runner places no limitations on your movement. There’s no moving belt and no fixed path. Instead, you create the movement and pace that is uniquely yours. By eliminating impact, the Zero Runner allows injured and recovering athletes the freedom to run as they would normally and at a pace that fits their training needs.

Add More Miles

Even otherwise healthy athletes inevitably reach a point in their run after which the benefits of further running are outweighed by the stress and strain that comes with each footfall on pavement. Indeed, runners who try to push themselves past these limits can threaten their bodies with serious damage.

With the Zero Runner, you can delay that breaking point and continue running with the same intensity without fear of pain or injury. The pounding your joints take when running outside or even on treadmills steadily wears down your body and stresses your joints. Running on the Zero Runner, however, completely eliminates the impact your body would otherwise feel while engaging the same muscles you use when running naturally.

While the Zero Runner is an ideal machine for injured athletes, all variety of runners can benefit from the additional miles the Zero Runner makes possible for you to achieve. Try using the Zero Runner as a supplement to your normal running routine: run 6 miles outside and 4 miles inside on the Zero Runner. You’ll immediately notice how the lack of impact on the Zero Runner allows you to stay as strong at mile 10 as you were at mile 1.

Cross Training Integration

Octane Zero Runner ZR7 CROSS CiRCUITLike all of Octane’s products, the Zero Runner can connect wirelessly to your iPad using the SmartLink app available on the app store. With the SmartLink app, you have access to dozens of customizable training programs, tools, and resources to help you improve your performance and track your progress (for more info on the Zero Runner’s iPad and SmartLink integration, please see our previous blog post).

One of the best features of the SmartLink app, though, is the unique CROSS CiRCUIT program filled with tons of beneficial cross training exercises. Athletes today know how important it is to vary the exercises you do while training in order to get the most well-rounded exercise possible. Cross training involves strength, flexibility, and stretching with different exercises like plyometrics and core moves to help you take on your weaker links and dramatically improve your performance.

By incorporating the Zero Runner into your cross training program, you will improve the efficiency of your workouts, increase your strength, and develop lasting athletic power. Combine running intervals on the Zero Runner with strength training and stretching exercises to optimize your workout while minimizing the chance of injury.

To all the injured and recovering athletes out there: don’t settle for less in your training and exercise. Your injury does not have to prevent you from continuing to work out. Visit your nearest Healthstyles Exercise Equipment location and try the ZR7 Zero Runner for yourself, today!  

Zero Runner: Benefits for Competitive Runners


runnersWhen it comes to running, most athletes have their own ideas about how to get the most out of every training mile. Well, we’ve got one too: try running without impact.

You can do this with the new no-impact Zero Runner from Octane. Available at your nearest HealthStyles location, the Zero Runner is a unique running machine that can help runners meet and exceed their fitness goals by allowing them to increase their training volume, monitor their stride consistency, and engage in active warm ups and recovery.

Find out for yourself just how beneficial the Zero Runner can be for your training regimen by visiting one of your local HealthStyles Exercise Equipment stores and going for a run on the Zero Runner.

Increase Training Volume

If you want to seriously improve your running performance over the long term, exactly how much and how often should you run? According to the 2013 National Runner Survey distributed by Running USA, the average competitive runner runs 35.5 miles a week. But is that enough?

Frankly, there is no hard and fast answer to this question. However, most experts would agree that running more is the surest way to improve as a runner. After all, practice makes perfect. Research, too, suggests, this is the case. For example, Dr. Jason Karp, in his study of male and female qualifiers for the US Olympic Team Trials marathons, found a strong correlation between training volume and performance.

However, one of the problems inherent in running more to improve performance is that, at some point, running more will lead to a breaking point. After that point, more running can cause pain, discomfort, and even injury.

Enter the Zero Runner, the first no-impact running machine ever. With the Zero Runner, you can increase your weekly running frequency and daily running duration without increasing the risk of injury. That’s because the Zero Runner’s innovative hip and knee joints allow you to run with your natural form while the independent pedals eliminate the impact of your feet hitting the ground. No impact means no pain and discomfort on your joints, and that means you can improve your running performance by running farther and more often.

Monitor Stride Consistency

As with all Octane exercise machines, the Zero Runner can wirelessly connect to your iPad through Octane’s SmartLink app (see this blog post for more). With this app, athletes can choose training programs specific to their fitness goals, track their workouts and progress, and even work with a virtual trainer.

Octane Zero Runner Stride PhasesAnother feature available with this app, and with the Zero Runner, that is sure to get serious runners excited is the ability to monitor your running form. As it stands, most running technology can only track things like steps, distance, and calories burned. Although this information is certainly helpful, it only scratches the surface when it comes to evaluating your running performance.

The Zero Runner’s innovative design allows you to track your gait while you run. Monitor your stride length and height for consistency throughout your workout. Don’t let you running form slip or get lazy towards the end of your run! Get more out of every mile by tracking the health of your gait and ensure that you’re performing just as strong at mile 10 as you did at mile 1.

Active Warm Up & Recovery

Everyone knows how important it is to warm up before working out, both to minimize the risk of injury and to improve performance. However, simply stretching out on the ground won’t cut it. Most experts recommend athletes engage in “active” warm-ups, which increase your heart rate, open up your joints, and actively stretch your muscles.

Similarly, conventional wisdom increasingly favors “active recovery” during the cool-down phase after you’ve completed a hard competition or workout, as well as in the days following. One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that active recovery immediately after the event encourages recovery and reduces muscle lactate levels faster than complete rest.

The Zero Runner from Octane is a great tool to help you undertake both active warm ups and active recovery. After some initial stretching, hop on the Zero Runner and swing your legs back and forth through the full range of motion to more fully open up your hips and joints. Continue by moving through to a more casual jog in order to get your heart rate up and more actively stretch out. Follow the same procedure immediately after a hard workout in order to ease your body through the transition from high intensity to rest. For those serious athletes who struggle to take any days off, the Zero Runner is the ideal machine to use, as you can keep working out without threatening injury from over extension.

21st Century Running Machines: No Pain, All Gain


Despite running being among the simplest and most straightforward of exercises, stress and discomfort sustained while running are unfortunately common. While there are no precise statistics, it’s estimated that every year more than half of all runners injure themselves to the point where they decide that they must stop running. For some, a few days of rest is all that is needed. But for others, their injuries force them to hang up their running shoes for good.

Running is a fantastic exercise, but why do so many runners hurt themselves when running? Numerous theories abound, from running too vigorously during training sessions to the type of shoes runners wear. Despite differences among runners, there is one aspect of running that all share: the impact of foot hitting pavement. This impact is responsible for the majority of ankle, knee, and hip injuries, and it’s this problem that a whole new category of running machines aim to eliminate. Even for uninjured runners, removing the impact confers significant benefits by allowing for longer training sessions and active warmup and recovery. Forget running in the pool, here’s one example of a 21st Century Running Machine that seeks to remove impact so you can enjoy your running once again:

Less Impact, More Performance

Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero RunnerDo you wonder what it would feel like to run on air? The motorless and trackless Zero Runner from Octane Fitness allows you to do just that. This 21st Century Running Machine has two independent footpads with innovative hip and knee joints that replicate a genuine running motion with absolutely zero impact. Providing a more natural running stride than an elliptical and without the noise and impact of a treadmill, the Zero Runner combines the best of both worlds to give you a powerful workout without the strain and stress that normally accompanies running.

Other companies have taken different approaches to removing the impact on joints. The Sproing Trainer from Sproing Fitness, for example, does away with the moving track like the Zero Runner. In its place, the Sproing Trainer features a 6-inch adjustable cushion of high-density foam and air which, when paired with a solid rear post that holds your waist in place with a high-anchored harness, lessens the impact on your joints as you lean forward and run in place. The resulting exercise doesn’t feel quite as natural as the Zero Runner, but the Sproing Trainer helps improve form by compelling you to land on the balls of your feet, as opposed to the typical bad form of heels-first.

Woodway’s EcoMill, on the other hand, keeps the traditional treadmill track, albeit with significant differences. The EcoMill’s innovative rubber-coated aluminum slats transmit much less shock and strain to your joints than normal running outside or on a treadmill. With no motor, speed is determined by where you run on the EcoMill’s sloped track: higher up to run faster, in the middle to run slower. The EcoMill’s uniquely sloped track definitely sets it apart from other running machines.


The Zero Runner’s out-of-the-box design is not only ideal for competitive runners who struggle to take days off, but also for those runners who have had to cut back their running due to major or minor injury. With a greater stride length and range of motion than what is normally available with ellipticals, the Zero Runner’s innovative design mimics natural leg movement and allows you to create a customized running stride that suits your body. In fact, the Zero Runner provides constant feedback about your running form, informing you about your stride so that you can maintain consistency over the course of your run and maximize productivity. And with attachments for Octane’s CROSS CiRCUIT program built-in to the machine, you can maximize your workout by adding cross training to your cardio. Use the Zero Runner to supplement your normal running routine and save on the normal wear and tear while still maintaining a solid workout.

Plus, as with all of Octane’s products, the Zero Runner wirelessly connects to your iPad and transmits data to the SmartLink app (available on the App Store) so you can monitor your progress as you complete one of the dozens of customizable programs. This is definitely a machine made for 21st Century gadget-savvy athletes!

Try the Zero Runner for yourself when you visit your nearest HealthStyles Exercise Equipment location.